Since ancient times, gifting children with jewelry has been a globally practiced custom, as it is believed these gifts guarded children against evil spirits, bad luck, and sicknesses. For example, Cambodian parents would tie silver strings with bells on their children’s ankles to ward off evil and hear if their kid had ventured away from them. Since the early 14th century, Italians have gifted their newborns small horn necklaces made from coral and other materials to protect them from the “evil eye.” Since these early customs, children’s jewelry has earned a prominent place in the consumer market, and for this, certain safety standards are needed to prevent hazards like incidental mouthing and choking of jewelry products. ASTM F2923-20: Standard Specification For Consumer Product Safety For Children’s Jewelry lays out safety specifications for children’s jewelry for those aged under twelve.
The ASTM F2923-20 Standard for Children’s Jewelry
ASTM F2923-20 establishes nationally recognized safety requirements and test methods for specified elements and certain mechanical hazards in children’s jewelry. The standard defines children’s jewelry as a product principally designed and intended as an ornament (e.g., a charm that can be placed on a bracelet) worn by a child. Jewelry includes items such as earrings, necklaces, brooches, tiaras/crowns, anklets, arm cuffs, body piercing jewelry, bracelets, and pins.
The standard also includes recommendations for age labeling, age warnings, and guidelines on identifying the primary intended users (children or adults). It specifies its recommendations are for jewelry for children aged twelve year or younger. ASTM F2923-20 recognizes that not all jewelry is appropriate for all age groups; for instance, jewelry is not recommended for young children age three and under absent of close parental supervision.
What Does ASTM F2923-20 Not Cover?
- Product performance or quality (except those related to safety)
- Requirements for aspects of children’s jewelry that present an inherent and recognized hazard as part of the function of jewelry, such as small parts.
- Adult jewelry, jewelry designed and intended for use primarily by those over age twelve. This is covered in ASTM F2999-19: Standard Consumer Safety Specification For Adult Jewelry.
- Toy jewelry or any products (e.g., a necklace worn by a doll or stuffed animal) that are intended for use by a child when the child plays.
- Accessories (handbags and belts)
- Any item whose primary purpose is functional (e.g., keys and key chains)
History of Children’s Jewelry
During the 17th century, jewelry craftsmanship became extremely popular in Europe and included making special diaper/bib clips made of gold or silver for babies. During the Victorian period, this trend boomed into creating gold or silver personalized baby bracelets and necklaces with engraved plates, usually inscribed with the word “baby” or carrying the child’s name. The lettering was typically made of enamel—also used to create flower decorations on the bracelets. Additionally, wealthy families were keen on presenting infants with jeweled brooches made out of semi-precious stones like garnets, eventually becoming family heirlooms (that can now be found at display at museums).
These trends traveled to America as well, where parents would use baby pins (i.e., tiny gold clips) instead of common buttons for baby girls’ clothing. In the 1800s and 1900s, children were gifted small coral-bead necklaces for protection against evil and diseases, as well as for teething. Furthermore, in many Latin American, South American, and South Asian cultures, it is expected that baby girls have their ears pierced shortly after birth, and buying the first set of earrings for the baby is one of the most special moments for the parents, grandparents, and/or godparents in these cultures. In fact, there are some hospitals in South American nations were a newborn girl cannot be discharged until her ears are pierced.
ASTM F2923-20: Standard Specification For Consumer Product Safety For Children’s Jewelry is available on the ANSI Webstore.